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New York City

What are the most popular neighborhoods in New York City?

Can anyone give me a run-down on the differences between neighborhoods in New York City? Meaning, which ones are considered upscale, artistic, hipster, up-and-coming, food forward, etc.? I really don't know what's what and this would really help in planning my trip! I need hotel recommendations as well, if you have any! What are the best hotels in each area?

10 Answers

top answer by
Julia from New York City

This is a question that you could write answers to for days, but maybe this quick rundown will help you plan your trip, starting in northern Manhattan and moving down...also, you can get good food pretty much anywhere in Manhattan, so finding restaurants shouldn't ever be a problem. 

Upper East Side: mix of old money and, if you go a little more east into the numbered avenues, frat/sports bars, with a mix of wine bars. 

Upper West Side: more families and high arts oriented -- i.e., Lincoln Center for theater and opera. 

Midtown Manhattan: think Times Square, theater district. Hell's Kitchen on the west side has good and less expensive restaurants (lots of good Thai food).  

Chelsea (New York): Probably the most predominantly gay area, cool galleries on the far west side.

West Village/Meatpacking District: Trendy, celeb spotting, clubbing, good eats, but gets busy and scene-y. Nightlife. 

East Village: art scene/hipster gone more mainstream. Go east of 1st Ave to get a better sense of the East Village of yore, but very gentrified now. Good eats at all price points. Nightlife. 

SoHo: Retail shopping, models walking around, crowded, good for window and real shopping. If you want to see off-the-beaten path Soho (if there is such a thing) don't stay on Broadway and go on the side streets. Quieter at night. If you're in the area and want nightlife, head east to Nolita. 

Chinatown New York: Authentic Chinese food, what else??

TriBeCa: Upscale, good restaurants and higher end bars, more desolate at night, not really a walking and looking around place, better if you know where you're headed. 

Financial District: Check it out for World Trade Center, but not a nightlife area. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Upper East Side (attraction)
  2. Upper West Side (attraction)
  3. Midtown Manhattan (neighborhood)
  4. Chelsea (New York) (attraction)
  5. West Village (neighborhood)
  6. Meatpacking District (neighborhood)
  7. East Village (neighborhood)
  8. SoHo (neighborhood)
  9. Chinatown New York (neighborhood)
  10. TriBeCa (neighborhood)
  11. Financial District (attraction)
12 thanks

answered by
Regan from Brooklyn

Anything above 23rd street is staid and boring.  Stay below 23rd and East of 5th Ave if you're under 30 and West of 5th Ave if you're over 30.  And if you want food forward, leave Manhattan for Brooklyn.  Anything interesting happening in food and nightlife happens in Brooklyn. Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford, Cobble Hill for the best Brooklyn hoods.  Williamsburg or Bushwick if you want super hipster.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Manhattan (attraction)
  2. Brooklyn (neighborhood)
  3. Fort Greene (neighborhood)
  4. Clinton Hill (attraction)
  5. Bedford (neighborhood)
  6. Cobble Hill (neighborhood)
  7. Williamsburg (neighborhood)
  8. Bushwick (neighborhood)
7 thanks

answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

Lower East Side - this area used to be the dregs of the city, full of fire-trap tenement buildings and drug dealers and now you can't afford a closet there. It's hipster meets incredibly lucky New Yorkers who moved in there 40 years ago and now own insanely valuable property. Some great stores and restaurants. 

Nolita - a few years ago people were saying this was the new SOHO and although there are a lot of cute boutiques and some great people watching, it's slowly becoming very mainstream. Don't let that stop you from checking it out, though--still lots of great shops and restaurants. 

Upper East Side - every time spend the day here I play a game to see how many Hermes scarves I can spot people wearing. That pretty much tells you what it's like. 

Upper West Side - if you don't live there, this area is kind of a mystery. I'd say it's mostly fairly well-off people who spend most of their time defending their choice to live there. 

Flatiron District - Mostly young professionals, but definitely not Yuppies. Very vibrant, constantly changing place although suddenly plagued by chain stores and Starbucks. 

Gramercy Park - if you have an apartment here, you either inherited it from a family member who started a publishing house in the early 1900s or you're a wildly successful talk show host. 

Harlem - if you live here or come here a lot, you're ahead of the curve. Innovative, diverse and very exciting. 

Midtown Manhattan - if you're within a block of midtown you're either a jeweler, a lost Rockette, or a tourist. 

Bowery - ask anyone who lived or even visited this area pre-2010 and they will tell you the transformation is beyond words. Pretty much the coolest place in the city right now. Unexpected stores, poetry readings, cool hotels and bars. 

TriBeCa - where hipsters go when they age out of that category. Full of independent film maker types and Gwyneth Paltrow wannabes yet still a nice place to spend the day. Lots of cute shops and outdoor cafes. 

Meatpacking District -  it's a little past its Sex and the City prime as the hottest shopping/dining area, but it's still young and fun. 

SoHo - it used to be full of artists and creative types - now it's just chain stores and contrived bars. It's certainly lively, but that's mostly due to an influx of tourists and Upper East Siders who just want to see the downtown branch of Ralph Lauren. The bohemian vibe is totally gone now. 

East Village - Still maintains its signature grit, but is a little on the "meh" side now. You used to see a lot of mohawks and scary piercings but now it's mostly college kids who wear all black. 

Hudson Square - my favorite area of the city right now. Lots of creative types, great mix of young and old, interesting stores, beautiful green spaces, but still authentic. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lower East Side (attraction)
  2. Nolita (attraction)
  3. Upper East Side (attraction)
  4. Upper West Side (attraction)
  5. Flatiron District (neighborhood)
  6. Gramercy Park (neighborhood)
  7. Harlem (neighborhood)
  8. Midtown Manhattan (neighborhood)
  9. Bowery (attraction)
  10. TriBeCa (neighborhood)
  11. Meatpacking District (neighborhood)
  12. SoHo (neighborhood)
  13. Ralph Lauren (attraction)
  14. East Village (neighborhood)
  15. Hudson Square (attraction)
7 thanks

answered by

Hipster Bushwick and hipster passe Williamsburg.Artistic, I suppose Chelsea (New York).Upscale Upper East Side and Greenwich Village.Food- at this point I'd say East Village and Lower East Side.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bushwick (neighborhood)
  2. Williamsburg (neighborhood)
  3. Chelsea (New York) (attraction)
  4. Upper East Side (attraction)
  5. Greenwich Village (neighborhood)
  6. East Village (neighborhood)
  7. Lower East Side (attraction)
5 thanks

answered first by
Heather Ann from Stamford, Connecticut

Alphabet City - hipster

East Village -hipster

Chelsea (New York) - Galleries

West Village - food forwardSoHo - Trendy food and restaurants

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Alphabet City (attraction)
  2. East Village (neighborhood)
  3. Chelsea (New York) (attraction)
  4. West Village (neighborhood)
  5. SoHo (neighborhood)
5 thanks

answered by
David from New York City

Central is an interesting term in NYC because some people take it to mean midtown, but I take it to mean in the middle of the action that is fun and cool, aka not midtown. If you mean the latter, I would stay anywhere between TriBeCa and Union Square, and the best way to get a good sense of NYC would be an Airbnb. If you go hotel, the W New York - Times Square in Times Square is awesome, but pricey, and is next-door to subway lines that will take you everywhere in the city. The Tribeca Grand Hotel is lively at night. The Marlton Hotel is also lively at night and super cool and New York'y. The James Hotel New York has an awesome bar at the top and is supposedly one of the coolest hotels. Tons of hotels, those are just a few that come to mind.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. TriBeCa (neighborhood)
  2. Union Square (attraction)
  3. W New York - Times Square (hotel)
  4. Tribeca Grand Hotel (hotel)
  5. The Marlton Hotel (hotel)
  6. The James Hotel New York (hotel)
3 thanks

answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

If you want to enjoy the feel of lovely old residential neighborhoods, you can visit Sutton Place, Beekman Pl just north of the United Nations Building. 

If you go to lower Manhattan you can enjoy the Station Island Ferry, the City Hall Park, Wall St, Foley Square

If you want to experience NYC parks, walk the High Line Park, explore Central Park or Riverside Park

Shopping and eating are everywhere in NYC. 

What is unique to the city are the great museums, buildings, streetscapes and fabulous view bars which are well documented. Search New York Magazine for "best of" listings.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sutton Place (attraction)
  2. Beekman Pl (attraction)
  3. City Hall Park (attraction)
  4. Wall St (attraction)
  5. Foley Square (attraction)
  6. High Line Park (attraction)
  7. Central Park (attraction)
  8. Riverside Park (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

If you are planning a trip to NYC, what matters most is what you want to see and do.  For example, if you are interested in museums, you will probably head to the upper east side, which has  The Frick CollectionThe Metropolitan Museum of Art Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and several others within blocks, like Museum of the City of New YorkCooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, it is just a great area packed with art and interest.

If you are interested in the financial sector, you would love Wall St, to take the free tour of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (which you must book on line in advance), see the New York Stock Exchange, and so you would be in lower Manhattan, where you could also take the Staten Island Ferry, or walk the Brooklyn waterfront, for the views.

If you want to hang out with hip, well-dressed young people, go clubbing and dancing, and take in the bar scene, you would probably head to SoHo, or the lower east side.

In Manhattan, great shopping is everywhere, great architecture is everywhere, transporation is always on and the city never sleeps.

There are so many restaurants, connections to fashion, food and TV, just pick your interest and decide what neighborhood to visit.

2 thanks

answered by
Dea from New York City

I live in West Village and agree with Julia a lot of Julia's answers for each neighborhood. If you decide to stay in West Village, there are a lot a fun bars around here, generally a "younger crowd" but NY has so many cool neighborhoods. Look into The Jane Hotel, a total old school feel here. It looks like a hotel you'd see out of a movie from the 50's. 

I love heading into Brooklyn/Williamsburg there are tons of great hotels around. Probably the most popular is the Wythe Hotel, there's a GREAT restaurant inside called Reynard. The Brooklyn Bridge is a short walk away which is a "must" when heading to NYC. Brooklyn is generally considered the more "hip" area of NYC. Same goes with Williamsburg.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. West Village (neighborhood)
  2. The Jane Hotel (hotel)
  3. Brooklyn (neighborhood)
  4. Williamsburg (neighborhood)
  5. Wythe Hotel (hotel)
  6. Reynard (restaurant)
  7. Brooklyn Bridge (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Perla from Alexandria (Virginia)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. TriBeCa (neighborhood)
  2. 5th Ave (attraction)
2 thanks

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